We are a gaming family. Spades. Fishbowl. Catch Phrase. When we get together, our activities often include board games. Over the years of competition, our individual personalities come out. Some play to win. Others play to giggle.
To the annoyance of the more competitive, I’m in the latter category. I participate to tell and hear funny stories. The game itself is just an excuse to get everyone together into a singular location. As Mark has often explained to visitors, “He who laughs most around our table is the true winner.”
As I reflect on the holidays, I realize my own need to be more competitive. Yet surprisingly, my conviction is not to be increased around the gaming table. No, this awakening is prompted by Kingdom competition.
Take the example of the Apostle Paul, for instance. Yes, he strove to be the best in every category: “Of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the Law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5). Yet, the more he knew Christ, the more his competition funneled into a singular focus. “One thing I do” was his aggressive motto.
And where did he channel his competition? He leaned forward and pressed hard to lay hold “of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). I wonder if I can say with Paul that my singular focus is to “win Christ” even during the holidays (Philippians 3:8 KJV)?
David Wilkerson says that “we win Christ by the choices we make that are pleasing to Him…If we love Him unreservedly, hungering for Him continuously, we will remember Him in every choice.” Is this my objective — whether I’m playing to win or playing to laugh?
Whether or not we are naturally competitive, winning Christ should always be our ultimate goal. And in doing so, our attitudes will change even toward those we are the closest. Winning Christ is exactly opposite of winning here on earth. Successful competition here in the earthly realm points all glory to self. Winning Christ gives all the glory to the Father (John 5:41).
How are you competing this Christmas season?
Take Jesus’ model as your own:
“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44).
Prayer: “May it become reality from within me, Lord. May it truly be.”
Since my family won’t all be together this Christmas, indulge me a moment as I interview our four oldest grandchildren across the miles….
What is your favorite part of Christmas?
Joshua (age 7) – “Opening presents! Oooo and playing in the snow!”
Felicity (age 4) – “Opening stockings!!”
Noah (age 8) – “Eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast ‘cause it’s really yummy. And I like opening stockings right after.”
Judah (age 5) – “Setting up the Christmas tree and opening presents”
What is a food we eat at Christmas that you like?
Noah – “Cinnamon rolls”
Joshua – “Monkey bread!”
Judah – “Candy canes”
Felicity – “I like all the things that we eat for Christmas!”
What is the most exciting part of the Christmas story?
Joshua – “Jesus being born”
Judah – “About Jesus”
Noah – “Jesus dying and saving our sins”
Felicity- “My favorite part is that stable!”
What do you think the shepherds thought when the angels came to them?
Judah – “They looked scared when she first came but she said don’t be scared, I have good news for you and then they looked happy.”
Joshua – “‘Woah!’ They got scared and then they were happy.”
Noah – “That they really wanted to see the newborn king.”
How long do you think it took the wise men to get to Jesus?
Felicity – “Ten minutes!”
Joshua – “Like three days?”
Noah – “Four days maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to answer that question.”
Judah – “A long, long journey.”
What is the most surprising part of the Christmas story?
Felicity – “The angels!”
Noah – “That Jesus was born in a stable!”
Judah – “Where Jesus came out and then we got to watch Him lay in the manger.”
Joshua- “Jesus being born by Mary.”
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Noah – “Joy to the World”
Joshua – “Little Drummer Boy”
Felicity – “Rum pa pum pum!”
Judah – “Christmas, I love you” (he wrote that one) and “Charlie Brown”
So what are your children saying this Christmas?